Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman has been suspended 20 games by the NHL on Tuesday for his Jan. 27 hit on linesman Don Henderson.
Wideman, 32, is the 12th NHL player to be suspended for physical abuse of an official in the last 15 years. Wideman was quickly suspended indefinitely by the league last week pending a hearing.
Wideman presented his side of the story to the NHL’s hockey operations department in Toronto on Tuesday afternoon. He was accompanied by Flames president Brian Burke, who served as the league’s disciplinarian from 1994 to 1998. Since the hearing took place with Wideman present, the NHL had the option to suspend him more than five games.
Wideman said after last Wednesday’s game that his contact with Henderson was “completely unintentional.” There was no penalty called on the play.
The sequence began when Wideman was checked in the Flames’ end by Nashville Predators forward Miikka Salomaki. On his way to the bench, Wideman extended his arms and made contact with Henderson, who had his back to the defenceman.
Wideman appeared to be woozy after a hard hit from Salomaki. He said he didn’t see Henderson until the last second, which may have been indicated by a small stutter in Wideman’s skates.
“I took a pretty hard hit down in the corner and had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and my neck and I was just trying to get off the ice,” Wideman told reporters on Jan. 27. “I was kind of keeled over and at the last second, I looked up and I saw him and I couldn’t avoid it.”
Under the league’s Rule 40 (Physical Abuse of Officials), Wideman was facing a minimum 10-game suspension, regardless of intent. However, since there was no call on the play, the NHL had more broad powers to suspend Wideman under Rule 28 (Supplementary Discipline), which covers “any offense committed during the course of a game.”
Wideman is now eligible to return to the Flames’ lineup on March 11 when the team hosts the Arizona Coyotes.